The Question Of Jewish Identity

Jun 13, 2011

Young people today have a lot of ways to define themselves – their clothes, their music, their Facebook profiles.  But what about religious and cultural identity?  These things are a bit trickier, especially for young secular Jews.  What does this identity mean today in a world where Israel is a place of pilgrimage, and the center of the thorniest political issues we face today?

Today we’ll see how American Jews ages 18-26 are exploring their Judaism by visiting the “holy land” through the Birthright Israel, a program offering an all-expenses paid trip to Israel.  It’s a program that some see as a chance of a lifetime - and others see as a type of political indoctrination.  We’ll talk to Jewish scholars and students who have participated in the trip about their praises for and ambivalence towards this program.

We’ll also hear the story of Luzer Twersky, a 23 year old Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn who has made the decision to abandon the conservative faith and community of his upbringing and reintegrate himself into secular American society.

It seems that much of the conversation about religion today focuses on the outspoken extremists on the fringes of society.  But for many in our increasingly secular American society, religious identity is a far more complicated, nuanced thing.